‘Hugo’ is Martin Scorsese’s love letter to the cinema.
Drama Phil Bacharach
Martin Scorsese loves movies. Anyone familiar with the director of
“Raging Bull” and “The Departed” knows he worships at the altar of film.
It’s not surprising, therefore, that Scorsese would make a love letter
to the art form in which he immersed himself from his days as a sickly
child growing up on New York’s mean streets.
George Clooney, Michelle Williams take top acting honors.
Features Gazette staff
The Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, the statewide group of professional
film critics, has announced its sixth annual list of awards for
achievement in cinema, giving top honors to the “The Artist,” a
black-and-white, silent film that speaks volumes about movies and the
people who make and watch them.
Making the zombie film ‘The Dead’ almost turned the two men into zombies themselves.
For their latest project, UK filmmaking brothers Howard J. and Jonathan Ford shared scripting and directorial duties, which is a good thing, considering the experience nearly killed them (and others). The end result is not-so-ironically titled “The Dead,” a zombie epic set in South Africa that’s been called one of the genre’s best in recent years. It hits home video on Valentine’s Day, so share it with the one you love. Until then, here’s our interview with both sibs about making the horror film.
R&R: With so many zombie projects these days, why another one?
Howard Ford: For us, it's our first. We felt it would be different. We hadn't seen a living dead movie in Africa before, and in a way, we were slightly taking the living dead legend back to its roots in Haiti, French-speaking West Africa as well, where we shot the movie. That was very, very difficult to do, but we wanted a journey movie, and it felt different for that reason. It was a film that could hopefully work for people who just wanted to be entertained by the zombie situations and also to find deeper meaning as well.
Jonathan Ford: I felt like this genre of movie had passed without this particular type of movie having being made. An era had passed without all the boxes checked.
Howard Ford: And going back to the classics, as well. We first saw [George A.] Romero's “Dawn of the Dead” when I was 11 and that blew us away. It took horror into the light. And we've seen a few films since then that have been a little more disappointing. There's a formula now: People end up cooped up in a building and zombies try to get in. We said, “No, let's just take people on a journey so they're never in the same location for a few minutes.” That was something we personally wanted to see.
R&R: Shooting in regions that have been described as "life-threatening," what were you thinking?
Howard Ford: Funny, "What were we thinking?" is the opening line of my book I just finished this morning, I kid you not. It comes out in March, but that’s another story. What the hell were we thinking? A movie by British filmmakers in French-speaking West Africa ...
Jonathan Ford: ... with a Canadian vegan lead!
Howard Ford: The whole thing is crazy on paper and it was crazy. I was mugged by knife point on day one in the city and they took everything: my cards, my cash, my driver's license. The police tried to put me in jail for driving without the license taken from me in the mugging. The lead actor, Rob Freeman, nearly died of malaria.
Jonathan Ford: I got malaria, too. Horrific food poisoning. Every meal was like Russian roulette, and that's when you could find a meal. What the hell were we thinking?
Howard Ford: We were often digging for a toilet. There's no facilities there. You dig a whole in the ground and good luck to you. We kind of wanted to have this organic feeling and it became a life-threatening journey.
R&R:How long of a shoot was it?
Howard Ford: Well, it was supposed to be six weeks, but it took us five weeks to get our equipment out of the port.
Jonathan Ford: We were out there for about three months.
Howard Ford: When we did get going after five weeks of waiting on our equipment and paying God knows what every day at the ports, then Rob collapsed with cerebral malaria, convulsing, spent the night on a table covered in his own shit because there was no hospital bed.
Jonathan Ford: Then the doctor said, "He may not pull through. He's going to die in the next two or three days." And then he was on a trip for two weeks, so that's seven weeks down, and we haven't even done anything yet!
Howard Ford: And there's police pointing guns us for money all the time. It was just a living hell.
R&R: The film has been pretty well-received, yet it hasn't been given a large theatrical release in North America? I imagine that has to be frustrating after all that you went through --
Jonathan Ford: Yes!
Howard Ford: We're proud of what we've done, given the circumstances under which we did it, but it got a theatrical release, which is what we wanted, in 20 cities across the U.S.
Jonathan Ford: Unless you've got a big name in your movie, you ain't gonna get a large theatrical release. We accept that's the way the business works. It's not about how good or bad your movie is. It's down to the name thing, and we didn't have a name.
Howard Ford: We didn't have Paris Hilton in it, which is probably a shame …
Jonathan Ford: Steven Seagal.
Howard Ford: We'd love to see it more on the big screen. Audience reactions are really, really good.
Jonathan Ford: Certainly after the heart and soul and pain, and blood and sweat and tears — a lot of blood, sweat and tears — yeah, obviously, you want it to get the biggest exposure you can.
Howard Ford: We didn't shoot digital, so after lugging a 35mm camera across the Sahara Desert under such difficult circumstances — yes, it would've been nice to get it out there more. But hey, if people support the film on DVD and Blu-ray, and we're thoroughly appreciative of everyone who supports the movie by buying it …
Jonathan Ford: Hopefully it finds its audience there.
Howard Ford: ... we'll come back and do it all again.
R&R: You really would do a sequel? Do you have one in mind?
Howard Ford: We talked about the sequel even before the first one. But we had such a horrific experience making the film, which has made us very concerned about it, but yes. What it comes down to is, is there a demand for it? Do enough people buy the DVD and Blu-ray?
Jonathan Ford: It broke my heart, [but] some of my favorite sequences never made it into the film. We could easily pack another movie and hopefully make an ever better one next time.
Howard Ford: The U.S. release [of the Blu-ray and DVD] really has a bearing on all that.
Jonathan Ford: It's kind of hinging on that. It's all or nothing now! —Rod Lott
CFN Gazette staff
As if the movies aren’t predictable enough, the life of legendary
University of Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer is headed to the big
screen. (Spoiler alert: He wins! A lot!) Hollywood
has a knack for making the act of winning a game feel like cancer was
cured, so we expect nothing less than a $20 million opening weekend.
Coming soon: heaven domes, Grateful Dead, and docs and shorts galore!
Another month, another flood of special-engagement films coming to a theater near you, but not necessarily the ones you expect. You'll be pleased if you're into shorts, documentaries and/or things that are free. Let’s get to ’em!
In chronological order, we have ...
The Dome of Heaven 6 p.m. April 5 University of Central Oklahoma’s Center for Transformative Learning 100 University Drive, Edmond free
UCO alum Diane Glancy returns to campus tonight to show her new film, The Dome of Heaven, a chronicle of a dysfunctional family’s struggle for stability. The free screening concludes with a Q-and-A with the director, who’s also a well-known, award-winning novelist, poet and playwright.
Red Carpet Film Festival 7 p.m. April 7 Sam Noble Museum of Natural History 2401 Chautauqua, Norman $5
Six short films will be screened at the fourth annual Red Carpet Film Festival on Saturday. What makes them special is that they are produced by students of the Moore Norman Technology Center’s digital video production and graphic design classes, with scores provided by music students at ACM@UCO. Clocking in at 10 minutes each, the shorts are “Restless,” “My Eyes Are Bigger Than Yours,” “Vengeance,” “The Chill,” “The Guardian” and “Bring Me to Life.” Get tickets — only $5 — and more info at redcarpetfilmfest.webs.com.
Introduction to Documentary Film 2:30-4:30 p.m. April 12 Oklahoma City Museum of Art 415 Couch $35
Here’s a nifty idea: Take a class for the fun of it, especially when said sessions explore documentaries. That’s the intent behind a two-hour class for six Thursdays, beginning April 12, as part of the University of Oklahoma’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Kathryn Jenson White, an Oklahoma Gazette film critic and associate professor at OU, will lead the classes at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. On the syllabus are such acclaimed, accessible, influential and even revolutionary works as Nanook of the North, The Thin Blue Line, Roger & Me, Grizzly Man, Shut Up and Sing and Taxi to the Dark Side. To register, call 325-3488 or visit olliatou.org.
Blue Like Jazz April 13 AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, Cinemark Tinseltown, Moore Warren
Having earned $345,000 in 30 days, Blue Like Jazz is the most-funded film in Kickstarter history, and it opens in three metro theaters on April 13. With a cast of unknowns and based on Donald Miller’s best-selling 2003 nonfiction book, the comedy is about a young man who flees his Bible Belt upbringing to attend college at “the most godless campus in America,” and struggles with keeping his faith. I suppose this is counterprogramming to Cabin in the Woods?
Children of War April 15 Fambul Tok April 22 Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business 2501 N. Blackwelder free
OCU’s ongoing, free documentary series continues with Children of War, about former child soldiers in Uganda, on April 15 and Fambul Tok, about forgiveness following Sierra Leone’s brutal war, on April 22. Both are free. For more information, call 208-5472 or visit okcu.edu/film-lit.
Grateful Dead Second Annual Meet-Up at the Movies 2012 7 p.m. April 19 AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, Cinemark Tinseltown, Hollywood Spotlight 14 in Norman
You know how Deadheads follow the Grateful Dead from concert to concert? I wonder if that holds true when the concert is a film. I guess you could find out April 19, when three area theaters host a never-before-seen summer 1989 gig from the Alpine Valley Music Theatre. A slideshow of band photos will precede the feature, as will a previously unreleased live track from 1974. Grab info and tickets at fathomevents.com, man!
Switch 6 p.m. April 24 Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business 2501 N. Blackwelder free
Screening on the OCU campus for free is the documentary Switch, about trends and the future of the energy industry, with an aim to encourage a balanced national understanding on the topic and its utter importance. Interested? Reserve your complimentary tickets at switchenergyproject.com. —Rod Lott
Horror Rod Lott
Not like TV's The Walking Dead
is perfect, but its mainstream success on a weekly in-season basis has
spoiled viewers, thus ruining many zombie movies. It has raised a bar
that most only could hope to come close to clearing. But even without
the show, efforts like The Terror Experiment likely would find no love.